At 20, Tanya Tucker may have already discovered Dolly Parton’s secret. The key to country-pop “crossover” success is not to leave ’em laughin’—it’s leave ’em gaspin’. A precocious C & W regular since 1971 (she cut her biggie, Delta Dawn, at 13), Tanya is now revamping her act with a hard-driving country-rock sound to go with new tattoo-tight costuming. Far Out Productions, her new L.A. management, had her painted in an outrageously foxy jumpsuit on a so-called “ego” billboard that is tying up traffic on Sunset Blvd. Tanya has moved to a condo, and her ultimate goal is the old Ronstadt country of Malibu. If her new look drew a few scattered boos in a recent Grand Ole Opry gig, and no less a country legacy than Carlene Carter fizzled commercially this year in a similar rock invasion, Tanya is unworried. “This is no big drastic change,” she says. “It’s always been inside me.” Besides, she adds, “Men really like it.”
The musical hybrid of classical jazz has yet to create its first supergroup, but one may be on the way. Piano virtuoso Keith Jarrett has been in Japan to rehearse his first orchestral composition, The Celestial Hawk, which he plans to perform and record next year with conductor Seiji Ozawa and the Boston Symphony Orchestra. Jarrett, 33, describes the 40-minute piece as “very serious—the musicians had no idea they would have to sweat so hard. They thought they would just be riffing behind my playing. The shock still hasn’t worn off.” Nor for quite some time will the impact of Jarrett’s Christmas release, his intricately melodic Sun Bear Concerts. They reveal Jarrett at his best, in solo improvisation. It’s a live, five-concert, 10-record collection—list-priced at $75.
“Next year I’m finally gonna assert myself as myself,” says Walter Egan, 30, though he can hardly complain about last year. His Not Shy LP sold strongly, and his Magnet and Steel single made the Top 10, thanks to producing and backing help from Fleetwood Mac pals Stevie Nicks, Lindsey Buckingham and Mick Fleetwood. “But I’ve been in their shadow,” frets Egan, a New Yorker-gone-California (he just bought comedian Bud Abbott’s old house) who plans to undone himself with a maiden all-Egan album coming out by March. “1979 is going to be the year of Walter Egan,” he proclaims, “like it or not.”
Three years ago at Philadelphia International Records (the label of R & B moguls Gamble & Huff), cleaning lady Evelyn King was vocalizing to take her mind off her work, she recalls, “when a man came up to me and said, ‘I’m gonna make you a star.’ ” She didn’t believe him then, but does now. By her 18th birthday last June, she was packaged with a fetching stage name, “Champagne” King (her childhood nickname was “Bubbles”), and had already cut Shame, one of the most enduring if not endearing disco hits. That and her Smooth Talk LP went gold, and follow-ups are due this winter. “I won’t do disco forever,” promises Evelyn, who sees herself supplanting not Donna Summer but Diana Ross.
Industrial rock is not what you give someone who already has a pet rock. Rather, “It’s the sound of the 1980s,” according to five bizarrely innovative singer-musicians in their 20s from Akron who call themselves Devo (for “de-evolution”). With their high-tech jumpsuits, goggles and surgical masks, they’ve certainly found a new world weird beyond even punk (which they disdain as “anarchistic”). “We see ourselves as a healthy irritant, the cleanup squad of pop music,” says spokesman/guitarist Jerry Casale (third from right). “We’d like to be the lounge band in the next Star Wars.”